The culture of the Channel Islands is a fascinating mix of French and British influences, thanks to the archipelago's rich history. Although the islands are situated in the English Channel, they're significantly closer to France geographically. Despite this, British culture predominates and the islands are particularly similar to the culture of southern England.
National identity in Channel Islands
The unique history, geography and politics of the Channel Islands intersect in a complex way that can be difficult to grasp at first.
Jersey and Guernsey are not part of the UK, but are rather dependencies of the British Crown. All governance and political matters are managed solely by the islands. The UK government is responsible only for the defence and international representation of the islands.
Those born in the Channel Islands have British citizenship but it's important to note that they are not English, Irish, Welsh or Scottish. Expats should make note of this distinction as born-and-bred Jersey and Guernsey locals, proud of their heritage, may not take kindly to being called 'English'.
The demonyms for Jersey and Guernsey are 'Jerseyman/Jerseywoman' and 'Guernseyman/Guernseywoman'. More commonly, the term 'Channel Islanders' or simply 'Islanders' is used.
Population groups in Channel Islands
The population of Guernsey and Jersey is made up of about 50 percent locals, with about another third of the population being born in the UK. Portugal is the most common country of origin apart from the UK and, in Jersey, the Portuguese make up 8 percent of the population. Other minority groups include expats from Poland, Latvia and France.
Languages in Channel Islands
Up until the mid-20th century, French was Guernsey's official language. Today, English is the official language in Guernsey, although French is still used in administration. In Jersey, French and English share official-language status.
Each island has a local French dialect – Jèrriais in Jersey and Guernésiais in Guernsey – but both are spoken only by a small percentage of the population today.